It’s the end of October, but we’re a week behind with the I Am A Singer 2 commentary so before proceeding with our opinions on the monthly finale–where Guckkasten and Sinawe will once again face each other–here’s what we had to say about this month’s eliminations. In addition to myself Dahee of Dahee’s Plastic Castle and Fabien of Kimchi Popcorn have contributed their opinions to this post. All performances can be streamed from the official site and if you live in the right country chances are you can watch some of them on YouTube too.
Lee Jung Focus
Dahee: I was shocked when I saw how popular Lee Jung’s first performance on the show was. His song was at the top of the charts, and news articles were everywhere about how awesome he was. I…don’t understand. That’s all I’m going to say.
Fabien: I gave up trying to understand when I saw that some of The One’s performances were still in the charts a few weeks after.
Park Sang Min – “나의 꿈을 찾아서” (Kwon In Ha cover)
Anna: It seems Park Sang Min is trying to channel his inner Bobby Kim again. There was something about the beginning that seemed off to me and this adult contemporary semi-rock arrangement doesn’t really agree with me either, but it’s still a fairly enjoyable performance. Oh, but that 10 year old girl doesn’t do anything in Park Sang Min’s favor as far as I’m concerned. More out of tune than cute, I’d say, but then it’s fairly unusual that I approve of including kids’ vocals in songs like this one.
Dahee: Like always with Park Sang Min, this is a good arrangement…but it’s the same thing he’s always done. GAH! Seriously, I cannot tell his performances apart anymore. Even the use of the little girl felt like a miss to me. I know this’ll sound mean, but she’s not that great a singer. There are lots of better child singers out there. Why her? Her voice just felt out of place. I was bored, bored, BORED.
Fabien: I’m not necessarily a big fan of easy compromises and effects to please the public, but this seems to be the best strategy when you participate in a singing competition, ESPECIALLY if you sing first. So why, Park Sang-min, why do you persevere in doing the same thing, a song that lacks as much relief. I feel I have gone around all that this singer can do. And when the only element of surprise is a girl who sings off-tune, it means there is a problem. (I do not put the blame on her, she necessarily lacks experience and the scene of I Am A Singer must be particularly daunting.)
Cho Jang Hyuk – “내 아픔 아시는 당신께” (Cho Ha Moon cover)
Anna: Much better than Park Sang Min! A standard I Am A Singer ballad arrangement, more similar to the grandeur of the first season than the many bland arrangements we’ve had to suffer through in this season. He sings it very well and while . And I’m sort of loving that blue suit of his. But why isn’t he himself satisfied?
Dahee: This performance made me nervous for him. The arrangement is rather lackluster, and he’s right when he says that he needed to sing more powerfully. Alas, the condition of his voice didn’t allow him to. But getting away from all that, it’s just a really unimaginative performance, and now I think it’s quite likely that he’s a nominee for elimination. Eek!
Fabien: This is much better, I thought the singer felt more involved in his interpretation than Park Sang-min did. I remained skeptical throughout the beginning but he convinced me with the crescendo in the middle. To be clear, it is just as unoriginal, but at least there’s emotion.
Kim Yeon Woo – “마지막 콘서트” (Lee Seung Chul cover)
Anna: He even got coached by Kim Tae Won but everybody’s talking about it as a Lee Seung Chul cover rather than a Boohwal song? Regardless of title I love this song. The beginning is very pretty, with just Don Spike on the piano and careful backing by the others. Kim Yeon Woo’s vocals are strong and clear. And he sounds even better as the song starts sounding more like a typical rock ballad. Beautiful!
Dahee: I am SO ANNOYED that they’re calling the song “The Last Concert”…and saying it’s by Lee Seung Chul…NO. That song is a REMAKE. At least he actually met up with Kim Tae Won, who stressed that the original song is titled “Memories III”. (And yet why is he still talking about it as though it’s an Lee Seung Chul song, despite knowing that it’s a Boohwal song? I am not impressed with you right now, Kim Yeon Woo.) This song has so much history and heartache behind it, so I’m nervous about how he’ll arrange it. And…the arrangement barely deviates from the song. It’s like a mash-up of the original and the Lee Seung Chul cover. Even that guitar riff is kind of reminiscent of Kim Tae Won’s guitar riff in the original. Still, a classic is a classic, and this song has such strength behind it that I’m finding myself drawn into the performance anyway. And Kim Yeon Woo sings it well. I like that he began and ended with the “Na na na” part, but at the same time I feel like he missed the entire climax of the song (the part where Kim Tae Won’s wife sings). It’s the part that always gives me goosebumps. This is an instance where I feel like a guest female singer would have come in handy.
Fabien: Still very little in the original interpretation, but much in the choice of the song. I always have a soft spot for rock ballads, which always have a huge potential for emotions, and this potential increases with age. The arrangement is very simple and does not differ from other versions we know …. but hell yeah, this already enough to make a very good performance. Kim Yeon Woo demonstrated excellent control of his vocals.
Han Young Ae – “사랑, 그 쓸쓸함에 대하여” (Yang Hee Eun cover)
Anna: This is just the kind of song I’d expected Han Young Ae to sing when she first joined the show. It’s a gorgeous song and Han Young Ae’s distinctive voice makes it seem even more emotional than usual. Even her makeup adds to the melancholic feeling of the performance. Common Ground’s Cho Jae Bum does the percussion. And there’s Kwon Byung Ho playing the accordion again! (I feel like I need to learn more about him, now that he shows up everywhere.) Oh, Han Young Ae even does some kind of whale song? Amazing! Han Young Ae has really outdone herself tonight.
Dahee: GREAT song choice! This is another classic, and one that I’ve listened to like ten thousand times. I never get bored of it. Han Young Ae’s voice is perfect for this song. She’s not overdoing it, and just feeling the emotions and the music. I got goosebumps at that moment when she let out that whale sound. I wish she’d brought more of that kind of otherworldly feel to it – the arrangement sticks a little too closely to the original. But I totally understand why those people in the audience are crying. I get it, man.
Fabien: This song seems to have been created for Han Young Ae! Once again her voice is enhanced by a discreet instrumentation which leaves plenty of room to do what I call vocal acrobatics. This kind of experiments compensates for the lack of originality of interpretation, and it is also taking a risk when you are so close to elimination. You can hold your head high, Han Young Ae!
Byun Jin Sub – “별리” (Kim Soo Chul cover)
Anna: A gugak take on this song is such a good idea! Kwon Byung Ho playing piri this time. When Byun Jin Sub starts singing it’s quite solemn. He’s not going all out with a traditional vocal style, but that is very much in his favor. The sparse arrangement is stunning! The second he got more of a band behind him I started worry that it’d go in the wrong direction, but Byun Jin Sub counters with very strong and steady vocals. Fantastic!
Dahee: Exquisite! Just when I wanted him to start experimenting, he’s done it! Bravo! He even says himself that he approached this performance like it’s his last one on the show. Let’s keep that mindset for the rest of the episodes, yes? His voice is so perfect for traditional music. And I love the use of the Irish whistle to modernize it a bit and make it a tad more accessible. And he’s so emotional! AWESOME.
Fabien: So from the first notes, I was hooked. The beginning seemed to follow the atmosphere left by the previous performance. What pleases me enormously in this instrumental is that traditional Korean instruments precisely do not sound like traditional music, as they have been blended in a more (Western) classical instrumentalization, which results in something amazing and addictive. Byun Jin Sub already takes this week’s award for the originality, but he also adds to this his strong vocals. Awesome !
So Chan Whee – “가지마오” (Sanullim cover)
Anna: Sweet! So Chan Whee has brought in Naty to help her get an authentic heavy metal performance. Unfortunately it’s not working for me anyway. Her vocals don’t really fit in this setting. When it’s just her and the keyboard though, and that scream afterwards! But then it’s back to the same again. Oh, but the finale of the song is true rock power!I appreciate that she brings rock of this kind to the show, but as far as her singing goes it was rather unsatisfactory most of the time.
Dahee: This…wasn’t very imaginative. Since the original song is so repetitive it’s easy for it to feel boring, and So Chan Whee…did not escape the boring. I mean, it was nice to hear some rock this week, since both Sinawe and Guckkasten were absent from this episode, and it was nice to see that she brought a veteran metal band to perform with her. But she needed to show more energy. She looked a little out of place, despite her good singing. Overall, pretty lackluster.
Fabien: This heavy metal is timely to wake up the audience, after some beautiful but slow performances. I also felt that her vocals were not deep enough for this interpretation. So when a song is already repetitive, it is best to find a development to make it undergo a rise to power or changes in instrumentation. There is a break for a moment that restores interest, but overall it is messy and very tedious.
Anna: 1) Byun Jin Sub, 2) Han Young Ae, 3) Kim Yeon Woo, 4) Cho Jang Hyuk, 5) So Chan Whee, 6) Park Sang Min
An unusually strong episode, this one! It was really hard to pick between Byun Jin Sub and Han Young Ae as both did excellent, but I’m a sucker for gugak fusion when executed well so in the end Byun Jin Sub won. Kim Yeon Woo may not have brought the most interesting performance, but he showed great vocal skills so he gets third. And then Cho Jang Hyuk who did pretty much the same thing, but with a song I wasn’t already as attached to. So Chan Whee I would’ve liked to put third for what she did this week, but because of her poorly her vocals matched the arrangement I’m instead tempted to put her last. But Park Sang Min bringing that kid on stage was worse, even if he did sing better, so he gets the bottom placement instead.
Dahee: 1) Byun Jin Sub 2) Han Young Ae 3) Kim Yeon Woo 4) So Chan Whee 5) Cho Jang Hyuk 6) Park Sang Min
Byun Jin Sub has shown that there is still hope for this show yet, as long as there are singers who are still willing to experiment and try new things. Bravo for him! Han Young Ae clearly comes second – I still can’t forget that whale scream. Kim Yeon Woo annoyed me with his apparent inability to get the title or singer of the song he’s covering right, but it was nevertheless a good performance, and he did indeed sing very well. I had major problems with So Chan Whee’s performance, but it was at least more interesting than Cho Jang Hyuk’s or Park Sang Min’s. As for Park, he was clearly in last place this week. I’m just sick of him, and want him to leave. NOW.
Fabien: 1) Byun Jin Sub 2) Han Young Ae 3) Kim Yeon Woo 4) Cho Jang Hyuk 5) So Chan Whee 6) Park Sang Min
Against all my expectations (I put a lot of time to myself to look at it), this episode was surprising and interesting. I really felt that, with the exception of So Chan Whee, there has been a crescendo in quality as singers passed. Byeon Jin Sub takes first because I really have nothing to say about his performance, he has fulfilled all the criteria I was expecting from a singer. Han Young Ae came second, but the difference is only in the arrangement, otherwise I was equally impressed by her. Park Sang Min, I can not stand more than simply wasting my time watching his boring performances. The only hesitation came thus between Cho Jang Hyuk and So Chan Whee, but the final decision was made when thinking of their vocals.
No. 1: Byun Jin Sub
Anna: It was between him and Han Young Ae also for the audience. Finally they’re on my side!!
Dahee: YES! He totally deserves it! And yay for Han Young Ae too!
Fabien: When the three of us AND the audience agree on the same singers, I think it’s the proof that it was very well deserved.
Eliminated: So Chan Whee
Anna: Oh no. I haven’t enjoyed seeing her on the show as much as I’d expected, but it’s always sad to see singers go just after showing that they are able to do things differently. I felt like this was Park Sang Min’s turn, but I guess not.
Dahee: I can’t pretend that I’m sad about this, but I really do not understand why the audience keeps voting for Park Sang Min, despite him doing the same thing over and over and OVER again. Do they really think that he deserves to be on the show at this point? I wash my hands of them! Hopefully the new singer next month will do more interesting things than So Chan Whee did.
Fabien: Oh noooo, I’ll have to comment on two more performances by Park Sang Min…